I want to let you in on a secret.
Okay, maybe it’s not a secret but it is something I do not like to share with others. The thing is, I used to be a very poor teammate. I used to think that I was bigger than the game of softball, that I was invincible. My attitude constantly reflected my performance.
I have always been a very competitive person. I remember playing kick ball with the boys at recess when I was in 4th grade and ruining my brand new white capri pants just so that I could slide into second and be safe. I have always hated losing more than I love winning. Therefore, I believed the sole purpose of playing softball was to be good and to win.
Let me be clear in saying that there is no greater feeling than winning. I love it. And I’ve never lost that competitive edge but my perspective towards playing softball shifted dramatically once I realized that the game was not about me.
When I was 12, I played softball because I loved being good at it. When I was in high school, I played softball to get a college scholarship. My journey with softball had always been about my personal success. If I had a bad game, I pouted. If I had the game winning hit, I expected praise. This mentality continued until I entered college.
College was when I finally realized that playing a sport is about the TEAM.
College was also one of the first times I played with people who had a different outlook on the game of softball. I played with teammates that cared about me as a person and pushed me to want to be a better teammate.
I finally started to understand the importance of being a good teammate. That the way you treat others is just as important as how you play the game, and that being a good teammate is even more important than being a good softball player.
This shift in thinking completely changed the way I viewed and played the game. I started to want my teammates to be successful even if I was in competition with them. I started to embrace and enjoy all the little things that come with the game, such as standing on second base and looking into the dugout as my teammates cheered together. I started to grasp that softball really is just a game and I finally understood that I am not defined by my performance on the field.
All of these things would not have been possible without playing for a program that continually pushed its players to be good people and for that I am incredibly grateful.
No matter what sport you play, the most important thing you can give your team is your attitude and effort and love. That is what I have learned and that is what I am going to take with me wherever I go in life. When you put others first, you will discover indescribable joy. You will see that the game is just a game, but the people you are surrounded by while you play the game are what really matter. And the way you treat those people can completely change your playing experience.
Put your teammates first. Spend more time thinking about what you can do to help those around you. I promise you that it will be well worth your time. I used to spend my days thinking about how I could be the best softball player but devoting my time to being the best teammate I could be was the greatest thing I ever did in college.
So my advice to you is to get to know all those freshmen. Don’t ever say no to a team dinner, pick up what’s not yours and don’t complain about it. Set the right example and work hard. Speak up when it is needed and love your teammates with no avail. Not everyone gets the opportunity to play on a team so I encourage you not to take a day for granted. Do all you can today to make your TEAM better. It starts with you.
Shout out to my incredible T35M who made being a teammate easy.